Thursday, December 15, 2011

Inexpensive Miniature Display Solution

Now that I'm finally over the flu, I've been making up for lost time and busting out quite a few miniatures and working on several scenery projects.  It's amazing how much better one feels when fevers and chills do not dominate the day and my hobbies have certainly benefited from the extra energy.  I'll have photos of the new miniatures and projects in the next few days but first I wanted to alert those of you living near a Michaels craft store of a great miniature storage solution.

My apologies for the flash but you get the idea.....

I was walking through the store on my way to pick up more Testors Dullcote when I just happened to look down a random isle and noticed a huge sale sign by the display cases. If you're anything like me, then you probably have tons of miniatures sitting around in any available space just gathering dust and you're always on the lookout for a solution.  While I do have cases for storage, I actually like to look at my miniatures from time to time so I usually leave them out on open shelves....which is not the best scenario for longevity.  I've looked at display options online but everything seems to be so expensive.  Well, I'm glad I walked down the isle because I'm very happy with what I found.

The case with the cabinet close.  Don't mind the ghost taking the photo.....

This particular case is sold as a Golf Ball display but as you can see, it works quite well for miniatures.  They are regularly priced at $50 but this week Michaels is selling them for 40% off.  I walked away with two of them for under sixty dollars...much less than a single quality display case.  I'm not sure what company makes these cabinets.  The only identifying marks I could find on the package indicated that the cases are distributed solely through Michaels, so maybe it's a house brand.  The overall dimensions are:  14.8" high, 17.8" wide, and 3" deep.

Spacing is perfect for 28mm miniatures.  The top and bottom shelves are 2.75 inches high while the middle three are 2.5".  All five shelves are 2.5 inches deep.  I had no trouble fitting figures with standard poses on any of the shelves.  Mounted miniatures and standard bearers fit best on the top and bottom shelves however.  Of my collection, the only minis that did not pass the fit test were GW Uruk-hai figures holding pikes straight up, GW Gandalf the White mounted with his staff held high, and a mounted Bretonnian with a large banner.  That's not bad considering the vast mountain of lead I've collected over the years.  Keep in mind however that I'm talking about standard miniatures and not war machines, etc...  Doing a quick count with my test minis, I think around 75 standard pose 28mm miniatures could fit comfortably in the display case.

The shelves allow plenty of room for standard 28mm miniatures

As far as quality goes, I'm quite pleased.  The wood is solid and sturdy and the two cases I chose were free of marks and dings.  The hinged door latches firmly on the side and swings open in a smooth fluid motion.  The glass seems fairly thick and exhibits excellent transparency.  And yes, I did say glass.  Many cheap display cases cut cost by using a lexan type material which definitely lacks in the aesthetics department.  There are two issues I found however.  For one, if the case is used freestanding, then opening the door causes quite a bit of weight to shift forward which in turn forces the entire case to lean in the same direction.  If not careful, it would be easy to dump an entire display full of minis over just by opening the cabinet.  However, by mounting the unit on the wall, this issue is eliminated completely.  The cabinet does come with wall mounting hardware already installed on the back making the hanging process much easier.

The golf ball divots....

The other issue is the fact that the cases were designed to hold golf balls.  Spaced about every 2.5 inches is a shallow depression or divot that keeps the balls from rolling.  I was aware of this when I purchased the case but I thought that I would simply cut thin strips of card to line the shelves and alleviate the problem.  After getting home and placing a few test miniatures inside, I decided that it wasn't necessary.  As it turns out, the divots are less than an inch wide and standard 25mm bases fit right into the upper portion of the depressions, locking them into place.  Smaller bases worked equally as well since the divots are quite shallow.

25mm bases placed in the divots.  The figure on the right is slanted for illustration purposes

I discovered another option when I went to the Michaels website to remind myself of the original pricing.  One reviewer that obviously discovered the case as a miniature storage solution as well, suggested turning the entire case upside down so that the divots are above the figures.  While there is a definite top and bottom to the case, I suppose that option would work, although the wall mounting hardware would have to be removed and repositioned on the new "top".

A group of test miniatures help fill out the cabinet

While not a perfect solution for miniature storage, if you're in the market, you might want to take a look at this one.  A lighted cabinet with a bit more height in places would be nice but for the price, it's very difficult to beat this display model.  So head down to your local Michaels and purchase a few before the price goes back up.  However, if you live anywhere near the Florida Keys, please do not take my advice.  I don't want them all to disappear before I get a chance to drive back up to the mainland and buy a few more.  Ha!

By the way, I would be interested to see/hear of any storage and display solutions you may have encountered or used.


  1. I have a couple of these; I'll have to pick up a few more while they are on sale. My solution to the dips in the shelves was to cut strips from black matte board the same width as the shelves; it covers the divots so I'm not limited by their spacing, and offsets the color of the wood rather nicely.

  2. Nice display cases!! I can understand wanting to display figures but why would you want to display golf balls??? I keep all my figures in file boxes, I should really get some kind of case.

  3. @Bill - Great idea Bill. I was going to try something similar...maybe strips of green flock to add a bit of color. But for now I'll probably keep it as is. I may try your method to see how it looks though.

    @Ray - Golf balls? I agree completely. I'm obviously not a golf fan but I did try to play a few times just to humor my Dad who was very much into it. I must say that I don't think I ever left the course with any balls in reserve. I am the world's best "slicer" and to aim straight, I would have to align myself at a right angle to the direction of intended travel. If a hole was par 5, you could plan on me losing at least five balls and probably many more. So even if I wanted to, I would have to steal balls out of other players bags to have any left to display. Ha! But seriously, I'm very happy with my find and look forward to displaying some of my completed minis. Thanks for reading!